Detroit: The Comeback City
BY ALEXUS BOMAR
OU News Bureau
Detroit ranks No. 9 out of 52 places to visit in 2017, according to The New York Times, and is known as “a comeback city set to make good on its promise.”
After exiting bankruptcy in 2014, Detroit has been turning things around by improving safety, tearing down thousands of abandoned homes, replacing street lights, creating businesses downtown and launching mobile applications to report problems to the city.
David Rudolph, senior managing partner at D. Ericson & Associates and a native Detroiter, believes downtown Detroit is growing in terms of population.
“The city is sort of blossoming like a rose,” he said. “When it finally opens up, you can see the true beauty of Detroit.”
The Detroit Free Press reported in May 2016 that the Census Bureau estimated a 0.5 percent decrease in population in 2015, the slowest decline in years. Mayor Mike Duggan said he expects the next set of figures to show the city is growing.
Deanna Majchrzak, media relations manager for the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau, suggests people visit the attractions and restaurants in the city, including the Detroit Institute of Arts and Comerica Park, home to the Detroit Tigers.
Because the Detroit Pistons are making the move from Auburn Hills to downtown Detroit, all four of Michigan’s professional sports teams — Detroit Tigers, Detroit Lions, Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Pistons — will play within a mile of each other.
Majchrzak said The Motown Museum is one of her favorite places in Detroit as it gives her “an upbeat, Motown mood.”
Detroit Experience Factory, a nonprofit dedicated to connecting locals and out of towners to Detroit, features 900 eateries, shopping and entertainment opportunities within greater downtown Detroit.
“There’s just so much history and life that’s around Detroit that if you don’t experience something you aren’t used to experiencing, then you’re going to miss out,” said Kailey Poort, director of communications and marketing for Downtown Detroit Partnership.
The Motown Museum, also known as Hitsville U.S.A., is home to the Motown sound and tells the story of Berry Gordy and his journey to creating a successful record company, which introduced the world to artists including Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross and Stevie Wonder during its heyday in the 1960s.
Poort urges people to take advantage of everything in Detroit and step outside of their comfort zone.
Detroit has grown into a city where investors, such as the Ilitch family and billionaire Dan Gilbert, have helped the community and outsiders come together to enjoy the city’s offerings.
Michael Ilitch and the Ilitch family have invested time and money in Detroit by establishing Ilitch Holdings in 1999, which includes Little Caesars, Olympia Entertainment, the Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit Tigers.
The new Little Caesars Arena, the most recent investment from the Ilitch family, is under construction in Detroit and is scheduled to open in September 2017. According to the Detroit Free Press, the investment could cost $1 billion in public and private dollars.
The Little Caesars Arena will be the new home for the Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit Pistons. The arena is in The District Detroit, which is a 50- block development consisting of six theatres, five neighborhoods and four sporting teams, all within walking distance.
“Michael Ilitch led the way with investments because he embraced and showed love to Detroit a long time ago,” Rudolph said. “Ilitch knew he could do something with Detroit when people didn’t think they could.”
Another investor who has played a key role in the rapid growth of the greater downtown Detroit area is Gilbert, the founder of Quicken Loans and owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Since 2011, Gilbert has spent $451 million to acquire 62 properties in Detroit, according to The Detroit News. Properties include One Campus Martius and the First National Building.
“These investments help create awareness of developments, bring people downtown and without these investors, we wouldn’t be here,” Majchrzak said.
Poort said she believes the investments are positive to the city because they have changed the landscape for the better but added that people need to be aware of those who lived here before.
The population in Detroit was at 1.85 million in 1950 due to the number of jobs with the Big Three automakers, according to The New York Times. Since the 1967 riot, the city’s population has declined to an estimated 677,116, according to the U.S. Census.
In a three-part story on National Geographic, Detroiters shared their opinions about Detroit from what they’ve experienced to what’s to come for the city.
Jim Hayden, who’s featured in part three, titled “Tough, Cheap, and Real, Detroit is Cool Again,” is a Seattle businessman, who spends a few months of the year in Detroit.
“I am a fan of comeback stories, like ‘Rocky,’ and Detroit is the greatest Rocky story ever told,” Hayden said.
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